As countries begin loosening restrictions and easing lockdowns, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) released guidelines to allow private offices in India to operate at 100 per cent capacity, but urged people to work from home as much as possible.
Not just India, several countries have released norms for employees. In New Zealand, for instance, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that those businesses in the “position to do so” should consider a four-day workweek in order to boost domestic tourism.
In South Korea, on the other hand, the government has encouraged that workshops and trainings be conducted online, asked colleagues to sit two metres apart, urged people to regularly disinfect places that hands often touch and refrain from shaking hands. Further, employers are encouraged to minimise international and domestic business trips and use video conferencing and phone calls as much as possible.
New Zealand and South Korea are two countries that have been able to contain the spread of the virus. Their guidelines for workers could hold lessons for other countries
Some private companies too have initiated steps to change their work culture in order to adapt to the pandemic. Tech giant Twitter, for example, was among the first global companies to allow employees to work from home. In a blog post published on May 12, Jennifer Christie, the leader of the People Team at Twitter, said “with very few exceptions”, offices would not open before September and there would be no in-person company events till the end of 2020. Later, CEO Jack Dorsey said he would allow employees the option to permanently work from home.ADVERTISEMENT
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Thursday said in a live-streamed staff meeting that the company would allow many employees to work from home permanently. He said that as many as 45,000 Facebook employees could be working from home within the next decade.
Microsoft has allowed employees to work from home till October, while Google has said the option was open until the end of this year.
How Covid-19 may change work culture
Due to Covid-19, it is likely that people would want to change their work environments, even after the pandemic. A Gallup poll found that three in five (59 per cent) US workers, who have been working from home during the pandemic, said they would prefer to continue even after restrictions are lifted. Over 41 per cent, meanwhile, said they would prefer to return to their workplace. At the time of this survey, 62 per cent of employed Americans said they worked from home during the pandemic.
Further, Covid-19 might also change the notion that creative work demands corporate campuses built by companies such as Facebook and Google, complete with free food, open office plans and ping pong tables, a report in the Associated Press said.
A shift in remote work could also lead to the movement of workers from big cities where the cost of living is higher. Significantly, if workers are given the option to work from anywhere, it may also affect their pay. If remote work becomes the norm, salaries may be pegged to cost of living, which may bring down salaries for employees who shift locations to smaller cities with lower costs of living